More Assaults on Social Media

I think I’ll just park this link here and let readers come to their own conclusions.  Just a quick summary — Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is looking to amend Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act to allow people to sue for mental distress attributable to their use of a “covered interactive computer service.”

The linked article is justifiably critical of the proposed amendment, going so far as to say it’s unconstitutional.  I’m not so sure I agree with that assessment.  The immunity provided by Section 230 is just a statutory grant from Congress. It’s not a constitutional guarantee.  The proposed amendment would allow a social media user to sue, thereby eviscerating the protection of the Section 230, but it is within the power of Congress to take that step if it chose to do so.  Any lawsuit would be subject to constitutional protections provided by New York Times v. Sullivan and Gertz v. Welch, but unlike now, a litigant could proceed with a suit.

So, the amendment is ill conceived from a policy standpoint, as it would open the floodgates to a torrent of lawsuits, but it likely would survive a constitutional challenge.